Squire Patton Boggs offices in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Mike Scarcella/NLJ)
While profitability dropped, Squire Patton Boggs didn’t let up on revenue and personnel growth in 2015. Its focus on Washington, D.C., in 2014, with the merger of global organization Squire Sanders and lobbying king Patton Boggs, gave way to expansion around the globe.
Gross revenue hit a high of $929 million, a 6.7 percent increase from the year before. Revenue per lawyer increased by $10,000 to $650,000, the firm told the American Lawyer.
Net income was down 5 percent, to $123 million. Profits per partner were virtually flat, moving from $840,000 to $845,000. (A previous version of this story reported that Squire Patton Boggs’ PPP in 2015 shrank by $10,000 to $830,000 last year. After publication, the firm corrected its 2015 equity partner tally, from 148 to 146, which caused the PPP number to move up slightly instead of down.)
“We closed an excellent year consistent with our budget,” Squire global managing partner Stephen Mahon said in an interview with American Lawyer late last month. Firm leaders, including chief executive Mark Ruehlmann, who is based in Ohio, declined through a firm spokesman to give additional interviews regarding the financial results.
Squire, now with 1,426 full-time lawyer positions, has one of the highest leverage rates among AmLaw 100 firms, with almost nine lawyers to every equity partner. Equity partners in 2015 totaled 146 full-time equivalent positions, a decline of eight positions from the year before. The non-equity partnership grew by almost 15 percent, to 342 full-time lawyers, the firm said. Overall, total lawyer headcount rose by about 5 percent.
In total, the firm made more than 60 new hires in both law and public policy above the associate level in 2015. About half were outside the U.S., according to the firm.
In recent months, the firm has focused on international business. On the state of the firm in 2015, global managing partner Steve Mahon provided a statement through a spokesman this week. “Our clients see the benefit of our global platform and we expect continued momentum in 2016 fueled by the addition of our new colleagues from Carroll Burdick [& McDonough],” which it acquired this year, he said. Mahon highlighted strength in the global compliance, regulatory, disputes, policy and transactional practices.
Carroll Burdick, a San Francisco-based firm with a focus on clients and lawyers in Germany, had 55 lawyers at the time of the acquisition last month. It had additional offices in Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Beijing.
Also this year, Squire ended a two-year strategic alliance with a law firm in Indonesia.
In a roundup of its major happenings in 2015, the firm noted dismissal of more than a dozen bankruptcy cases in Delaware regarding a resort in the Bahamas, a class-action settlement regarding Standard & Poor’s credit ratings in Australia and the representation of the Slovak Republic in arbitration. In Washington, former U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater, a legacy Patton Boggs partner, became independent monitor in a Fiat Chrysler safety audit.
The firm also highlighted the new head of its European Union public policy practice. Wolfgang Maschek, who joined in March from Western Union, is based in Brussels. Other policy professionals who came to the firm from non-law firm positions included Meg Gilley from the American College of Surgeons and Sam Adcock from the Mississippi Operations for Airbus Helicopters Inc. Adcock ran unsuccessfully for a Mississippi congressional seat in a May special election.
The firm’s foreign clients in U.S. lobbying work include Cameroon, China, Croatia, Qatar and Kosovo.
Top Lobbyists Departed Firm in 2015
Nearly every top member of Patton Boggs’ leadership committee and lobbying group has left the firm since the 2014 merger. The firm’s public policy revenue tumbled 20 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to public disclosures.
Washington departures in 2015 included former managing partner Stuart Pape for Polsinelli; Douglas Boggs, the late firm chairman’s son, for Manatt, Phelps & Phillips; Nicholas Allard, a former Patton Boggs lobbying leader and dean of Brooklyn Law School now at Dentons; Kevin Martin, a former Federal Communications Commission chairman who works for Facebook; Micah Green, a financial services lobbyist at Steptoe & Johnson LLP; and Kevin O’Neill, who moved a group to Arnold & Porter to grow its lobbying capabilities.
Also in the lobbying group, Manny Rossman, a top lobbyist who worked with Sens. Trent Lott and John Breaux at the firm, moved to Harbinger Strategies last January. David Hoppe joined the firm in early 2015 as a senior policy adviser, only to leave six months later for the chief of staff job for House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Still, Squire Patton Boggs managed to land two members of Congress. Rep. Jack Kingston and Rep. Jim Matheson, a Republican and a Democrat, joined in early 2015. Their presence boosts the Capitol Hill cache of the group led by Lott and Breaux, who are contracted to stay at Squire Patton Boggs until this summer.
Fallout from the Squire and Patton Boggs merger didn’t end at the revolving door. Corn refiners, who had hired Patton Boggs years ago, opposed Squire Sanders’ representation of the sugar industry in litigation over the marketing of high-fructose corn syrup, a $12 million, five-year matter for Squire lawyers. A federal judge ruled in February that the combined Squire Patton Boggs could no longer represent Big Sugar in court because of the professional conflict. The warring industry groups settled after 10 days of trial in November.